From spicy cider-flavoured pickled eggs to vegetarian caviar, it was sugar and spice and all things nice as the Christmas Foodies Festival headed to the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch last weekend.
Sue Hitchen, director of the festival believes that locally sourced produce was key. “We get as many local products and local chefs as we can to the festival. All those east London producers and brewers, that’s what makes it special.”
She believes that Christmas cooking has become healthier over the years with many new vegan and vegetarian products popping up. Vegetarian Caviar Club, also present at the festival, offered samples of their vegetarian caviar made from seaweed.
But although being “healthy is hot”, Hitchen believes that everybody still wants some treats. That’s why she has ensured there are plenty of shops offering cupcakes, chocolates and special types of gin.
The festival has attracted leading artisans such as Fiona Sciolti, an award-winning chocolatier. She said: “I used to be a stay-at-home mum and I had this crazy idea. It was supposed to be a small project really, but since then things have become amazing.”
Sue Tyley noticed a gap in the market for different flavours of pickled eggs, so she started Purely Pickled Eggs and has now been producing and selling them for a year. “We have always loved pickled eggs, no one was making different flavours of them, so here we are!”
Tyley travels to food and beer festivals to sell her products. “Things are going really well for us, the only downside being we haven’t had any holidays since we’ve started,” she said.
Despite the cold and rainy weather, the red noses at the festival might not all have been caused by the harsh weather. At the drinks theatre visitors enjoyed a bit of alcohol to warm up.
Julie Shutt from Boozey Belle’s Vintage Cocktails started her adventure only twelve months ago, “so it’s still very exciting and brand new”. She started off making a few vodka infused cocktails at parties”.
Two days a week she works as a nurse, the rest of the week she mixes cocktails: “I’ve always loved the vintage theme and I love cocktails. In Boozey Belle’s Vintage Cocktails I can add the two together,” she said.
She has already catered weddings and parties but says she prefers to focus on markets as she “loves to meet the people” she is selling to in person.
The Foodies Festival began in Edinburgh 10 years ago and is now expanding to different locations across the UK.
By Dorien Luyckx and Diane Lebel